Game 2 is not a must-win game for the Washington Capitals. If they lose, the season isn’t over. They still get a Game 3 regardless of Saturday’s outcome. They even are still guaranteed at least a Game 4.
“It’s 1-0, it’s not 3-0,” Justin Williams said when asked about the team’s stress level. “We’re fine.”
“Stress level?” Alex Ovechkin said. “Everything’s fine. I don’t know, it’s not stress.”
So it is not a stressed or desperate Caps team that will take the ice on Saturday. Washington will not be a team fighting for their playoff lives. Barry Trotz and Co. have a different mindset.
“There's only really one must game in the playoffs is when you've got three losses,” Barry Trotz said after Saturday’s morning skate. “There's only one must game. For us it's about being better. Tonight we're going to be better. We are going to be better. So are they though. It's the great thing about playoffs. You get to feel each other out. They're going to be better, we're going to be better.”
No, you will not see a panicked Caps team frantically fighting to keep their playoff hopes alive. Instead, you will see a confident team looking to even up their series at 1 by being the better team.
But that doesn’t mean they don’t understand what’s at stake. They're not blind. Washington cannot afford to lose both games at home if they have any real hope of winning the series.
“Obviously it's an important game,” Ovechkin said. “Obviously we know we can't give them 2-0 lead."
“When you go into the playoffs and you're playing a championship-caliber team, you've got to go and be the better team plain and simple,” Trotz said. “They have the DNA, they've done it, they've put the Cup over their head. They've done all those things. We have to be the better team. Starting tonight, we have to be the better team.”
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